Two elderly gentlemen were sipping coffee while sitting at the table towards the back of a room. I had just finished giving a presentation at their beautiful church situated on top of hill overlooking a bay outside Bremerton, WA. Judging by their appearance and weathered faces, I could tell that these men could tell a good story. The blue Scandinavian sweater displayed a proud heritage and the fact that I was in the Puget Sound area of Washington, I placed a large bet with myself that there must be some good fishing stories. I decided to meander over and offer my gift of time and a listening ear. As a result, I won a bet with myself. And the prize was a good story that brought a pleasant laugh.
Any fishing boat that braved the winter seas outside of Alaska will experience harrowing storms. Only the courageous would come back to brave the elements. This elderly gentlemen who lived in Poulsbo, WA once worked with a man who was considered fearless. In fact, he was so fearless that he had to replace his fishing crew every season. Nobody wanted to go with him. Shortly after an appendix operation and in need of money, he decided to sign on. Several weeks into the fishing voyage, a huge winter storm came upon them. Many of the boats headed to port, but not this guy. Braving the elements, he gently guided the large steering wheel while large waves crashed over the bow. While many seasoned fisherman were gripped with fear, the crusty old seaman casually remarked to my friend in a thick Norwegian accent, “It looks a little lumpy out there.”
My friend admitted that he didn’t last the voyage. He was dropped off at the nearest port in Alaska… and he wasn’t alone. Several other crewmen followed. They had enough of a fearless captain who would brave any storm.
The more I try to make sense of my Christian faith the more I come to realize that is less “I am” and more “He is.” Storms in life do that. They make us realize that we are really not in total control and storms will happen whether we like it or not. It’s just a matter of how we will respond.
That same evening, I gave a presentation in Des Moines, WA. I was sharing about Truth in Love Ministry and how it is our mission to bring as many people as possible to heaven. I visited a couple after the presentation and the wife shared with me that she grew up in Eastern Idaho a number of years ago. It was heavily Mormon. She eventually left the church and became a Christian and relished in God’s promise that she was already perfect in Christ. She utilized the approach of TILM of speaking the truth in love and over the course of many years, used this as a means to share God’s Word with her father. In what seemed like years of futility, she never gave up. Her father was approaching his late eighties and his health was beginning to fail. She received a phone call to come quickly. After a fourteen hour drive, she arrived at her father’s bedside. Once again, she shared the real gospel of Jesus Christ. Her father looked up and confessed that the Jesus his daughter was proclaiming was the true Jesus. Taking a bowl of water beside his table, she baptized her father. Within forty-eight hours, her father was in heaven.
While her husband shared her amazing story, the tears fell freely down her face. The relief, emotion, and joy were too overwhelming to share. This had only taken a place a few short months ago. Miracles do happen. And the Lord utilizes a period of waiting to only deepen our trust and faith in Him.
I love the Puget Sound area of Washington. It’s a unique place with wonderful people. They are certainly an independent lot. They don’t appreciate conformity but grasp a hold of telling their story in their own way. And I appreciate that.
Like the old Norwegian fisherman who fiercely braved the elements, they have a tendency to stare down the storms of life and proclaim casually, “It looks a little lumpy out there.”
There are days where I can use their courage.